MIUMF holds virtual town hall on racial disparities in health

The MIU Men’s Health Foundation held a virtual town hall Friday calling attention to the issue of male health disparities that have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Town Hall was moderated by FOX 2 Detroit Anchor Huel Perkins and a panel of experts including Dr. Michael Lutz, president and founder of the MIU Men’s Health Foundation and a urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology; U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan; U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills; Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II; Denise Fair, chief public health officer for the city of Detroit’s Health Department, and Ken Mitchell, a certified physician assistant and men’s health disparity expert.


MIUMF officials centered Friday’s event around tackling Michigan’s most common misconceptions and health disparities.


“It’s all to up to us to make a difference and so today’s panel is really to talk about a local, state, and federal level, how we can actually deal with, not just the disparities that we deal with in men’s health, but how we can create that level playing field with all of the men within all of our communities,” said Lutz. 


Lutz says Michigan’s health disparities know no racial bounds.


“We know from looking at all of the data over the last 10 years of our men’s health event that there are significant racial disparities that exist in our community,” said Lutz. “Men across the board are suffering from health issues, whether it be anxiety and depression or stress, but if you look at the racial differences the African men of our community are suffering at twice the amount of  daily stress as their Caucasian counterparts.”


COVID-19 highlighted the racial disparities in Michigan’s healthcare system. In August, racism was declared a public health crisis in the state. 


 State officials say there’s good news to be shared in the midst of the pandemic.


[We realized that] there are things that can be done. We have agency to be able to implement programs and policies that can protect us against, not only this pandemic, but against poor health outcomes that are racially disparate overall,” said Gilchrist. “We’ve been able to make progress and begin to flatten those curves and those disparities and it’s a testament to the state’s focus.” Michigan has worked to enforce implicit bias training for medical professionals and work in partnership with departments across the state. 


Some medical professionals took an immersive approach to improve health equity in minority communities.


“We had to engage the community, we needed to figure out where they were and assess all their barriers and meet them where they are.”


In March, the Detroit health department offered free COVID-19 testing for Michiganders. The MIUMF did the same during its 10th annual Men’s Health Event, while providing drive-thru vital screenings, an in-depth blood work panel, flu vaccinations, HIV testing, and colorectal cancer screening.


Health experts urge men to separate themselves from damaging societal pressures and actively pursue a healthy lifestyle.


“In terms of changing the culture, we’re going to have to start looking at young men,” said Mitchell. “As my mom used to say, ‘You’re no good to me, if you’re no good to you.’ It’s really important that you take care of yourself.”


Michiganders can keep track of MIUMF’s newest initiatives HERE and can find informative resources HERE.

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